Cement News

NETL Researcher to Share Expertise on Advancing Well Integrity

Barbara Kutchko, a senior researcher at NETL who develops advanced cement systems to reduce the environmental footprint of drilling operations, will serve as a key organizer and presenter at Cementing in an Unconventional World, a workshop presented by the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) Sept. 27-29, 2022, in Galveston, Texas.

“One of the major purposes of the workshop is to discuss the importance of sound cementing practices across all phases of the drilling operation’s life cycle, including design, reservoir recovery and project completion,” said Kutchko, a recognized authority in the field who was invited by the SPE to serve on the workshop program committee.

To most, cement is the material of buildings, roads, bridges and sidewalks. However, for Kutchko and her NETL colleagues, cement is also a critical material to ensure the safe recovery of oil and gas from wellbores beneath oceans and land sites and for use in wells drilled to sequester carbon dioxide (CO2), a greenhouse gas, safely and permanently in the subsurface and store hydrogen (H2), a clean-burning fuel, in underground formations.

“Cementing is one of the most important operations performed on a well. The cement sheath provides a seal that establishes zonal isolation, preventing fluid from migrating between zones in the borehole and blocking the escape of fluids and gases to the surface and into aquifers that provide drinking water,” said Kutchko, who was named a distinguished SPE lecturer in 2018.

On Tuesday, Sept. 27, Kutchko will co-chair a session on achieving zonal isolation during hydraulic fracturing stimulation. She will participate in a panel discussion on Wednesday, Sept. 28, to explore the use of non-Portland cement to repair failed cement barriers.

NETL’s Dustin Crandall, a research engineer on the Reservoir Engineering Team, is a co-author of a poster being presented at the workshop on the use of geomimicry (imitation of physical geological processes in the design and manufacture of products) to enhance wellbore cement for mitigation of leaky wellbores.

As a member of NETL’s Geochemistry Team, Kutchko leads research and works closely with oil and gas companies, government agencies and universities to evaluate current cementing practices and research needs to ensure the safe placement of cement related to drilling, shale gas production and CO2 and H2 storage.

She currently represents NETL on the American Petroleum Institute’s Cement Subcommittee 10C, which develops and maintains standards on various oil and gas wellbore cementing procedures for the U.S. petroleum industry and is actively involved in several working groups. Her research has informed federal policy and increased scientific understanding of the chemical reactions that occur in geological formations under CO2 sequestration conditions.

Under Kutchko’s leadership, NETL has become a world leader in advancing the development of foamed cement, which is created when gases such as nitrogen are injected into cement slurry to form microscopic bubbles and provide strength and stability to protect against leaks and spills for the life of a well. A stable foam provides the desired casing support when installed properly in the wellbore.

The SPE workshop will bring together exploration and production professionals with common roles and challenges. “The program committee solicited presentations from top industry professionals to ensure a robust technical program with presentations that are laser-focused on best practices, lessons learned and case studies,” Kutchko said.

The workshop will provide brief technical presentations followed by extensive Q&A and discussion to facilitate frank, open discussion. Click here for more information and to register.

NETL is a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory that drives innovation and delivers technological solutions for an environmentally sustainable and prosperous energy future. By leveraging its world-class talent and research facilities, NETL is ensuring affordable, abundant and reliable energy that drives a robust economy and national security, while developing technologies to manage carbon across the full life cycle, enabling environmental sustainability for all Americans.

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